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Yoga at School Has Some Parents Saying 'No Way' to 'Namaste'

The Short of It

Yoga stress breaks at an Atlanta elementary school have lead some parents to feel their Christian beliefs are being violated.

The Lowdown

According to administrators at Bullard Elementary, parents' reactions to students enjoying breathing and body movement in class are all just a big misunderstanding. Principal Patrice Moore wrote in an email that the issue has "created a distraction in our school and community," and is based on "many misconceptions."

Still, a meeting with parents is planned to discuss concerns over a double-standard in religious expression at the school.

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"Now we can't pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation," one parent, Christopher Smith, wrote on Facebook. "This is all without parents knowledge or approval. This is very scary. Parents beware of what your children are being taught without your knowledge."

Raw Story reports at least one other parent felt kids were being singled out to believe crystals have magical powers.

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Principal Moore refutes the claim that crystals are used in the yoga sessions, writing, although the school "never used nor taught about crystals having healing powers during these breaks, we understand it has become a belief. Therefore, we will ensure that nothing resembling this will be done in the future." She added, "While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some."

Now, kids will no longer be asked to say the word "namaste" or pose with their hands by their hearts in an effort to curb the Buddhist influence in the yoga practices.

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The Upshot

To me, this is much ado about nothing. But I practice yoga on a daily basis, both for stress management and fitness, so I see the many benefits far outweighing any potential detriments.

In fact, I'd be thrilled if my kids learned about de-stressing yoga techniques at school. With all the school gun violence, bullying and excessive homework, I'd say these kids have plenty of stress. Why not help them manage it?

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